The future of Calthorpe Community Gardens


CCG Press release here: CCG Press Release July 2019

The Eastman Hospital redevelopment will take at least 7 years and may cause the temporary closure of the Calthorpe Community Garden next door.
Enforced changes may include the relocation of the football pitch, the destruction of some mature trees and planting, and the dirt, noise, vibration and dust which will affect all users, particularly young children, vulnerable people and the old. There will be inevitable damage to mature planting and established wild-life. Whether this proposal is approved, or redesigned, the CCG still faces mammoth disruption during the inevitable building programme which will take place.
The Calthorpe Community Garden is a grass-roots home-grown charity, much loved and used by local people of all ages. It has been running for 35 years, and apart from community services, provides a welcome green oasis, open to the public, in the middle of this busy city.

1. Potential closure is dreadful news for Calthorpe Community Garden (CCG). They have faced this challenge with great courage and good sense – and a great deal of hard work.

• CCG have formally objected to this planning proposal.
• They have also set to work to deal with the future if this development is accepted.

Their planning objection:
CCG objected to the proposals on solid planning grounds.
In summary their objections concern:

• the height and mass of the new buildings

• the noise and pollution from the demolition and reconstruction phase

• the re-organisation they will have to undertake to accommodate massive building works next door

• the fact they will be overshadowed and overlooked (with consequent lack of privacy) and the bad effects this will have on the community services they provide, the mature planting and flourishing wild-life, and their consequent lack of revenue.

We will have to see the results of the planning hearing.
This Forum, the New Calthorpe Estate Residents Association and other local Bloomsbury groups, as well as English Heritage have all objected to these plans with valid planning arguments.
We have to remember, though, that the Dementia Research Unit is intended to be a world-wide Centre of Excellence, and so national interests may over-rule local problems. It’s a hard truth, which we all know, that sometimes unsuitable buildings get built for political reasons – although not all of us can accept this as entirely democratic!
Still, we live in hope that our sensible local views will prevail and the proposed buildings will be redesigned.

2.Calthorpe Community Gardens are preparing a Plan B in case this troublesome planning application is successful, and in the certain knowledge that, whatever is built, they will face upheaval and disruption.
CCG will have to reorganise how they use their land, and calculate how much the university will have to pay them in legal compensation. This is not generosity on the part of UCL, it is their legal duty to pay compensation.
Calthorpe Community Gardens have a team of independent advisors, including a lawyer, a surveyor and a town planner, who can help them arrive at a professional assessment of how much compensation they should claim.
Since CCG wants to be able to continue working during the 7 years of estimated demolition and building works, they are meeting with groups of users (mums with young children, school-club kids, football players of all ages, OAPs and allotment users etc) to find out how they would like the community services to operate.
CCG want comments from the wider neighbourhood as well.

CCG are holding a public meeting on August 3rd (2-4pm) at CCG to discuss what the redesigned CCG should do.

Please attend if you can, and tell them your views – these will help CCG a great deal.

3. CCG are intending to ask for funding from the university to buy independent professional help, in order to work out their plans for the future.
Some local people will always think that if CCG accept money they will have to do what the developers want.This is not the case at all.
The university has a duty to pay for CCG’s professional advisors, since CCG itself do not have the knowledge or skills to decide about big projects like redesigning their whole site, moving buildings, relocating the football pitch.
CCG have asked for these funds to prepare for their compensation claim and their future work. They have made sure that they are using independent professional colleagues who will work in the interests of the Community Garden, not in the interests of the neighbouring development.
Compensation money for a massive disruption to a local working charity is not an ideal situation. Maybe, in the long run, the redesigned Community Gardens will look excellent, with new buildings and new planting. However, in the short-term it seems that CCG may be a shadow of itself for a few years, due to disruption, whatever happens with this planning decision.
The Forum has seen how much hard work the CCG committee has done, already, to ensure their future is as secure as it can be. We applaud their serious efforts to get the best results that they possibly can – and the most compensation money they can!
We all hope that the Eastman hospital development is redesigned, but whether the plan goes through in its present form or not, the CCG certainly faces a troubled few years whilst redevelopment takes place.